Wednesday, March 04, 2009

BC Sunday Action - 1 - KAZANGO

Hey, I suggest you read the comic first before you read my dumb comments, so I don't spoil the gags for you.Johnny Hart's early Sunday pages generally had more action and visual humor than his dailies. They were less dialogue oriented than his later strips where a character would stand in the same pose for 4 panels and read a pun out of Wiley's Dictionary. These Sundays are full of natural graphic design. I wish I had the actual full color Sundays to look at.
These drawings aren't slick, and on the surface even pretty crude; they have things in them that I would criticize in cartoonists' drawings if they were working for me - like small cramped areas, vague details and shapes here and there...but Hart makes up for it all with instinct and guts. Hart's pen is directly connected to his feelings, and it delineates expressions and poses not seen before; not pulled out of a stock cartoonist bag of tricks.

You can be slick but lack soul and I'd rather have the soul if I had to pick one thing. Of course if you have both - like Clampett or Avery, it's even better.
Hart's pacing and staging is comic-strip perfection.

These nose tickling expressions are hilarious and you can totally feel them. You could not write a gag like this. And not just anyone could even make it funny. It's Hart's capability of turning real feeling into a few well-placed lines that create the entertainment.

I always loved the way he drew teeth - ragged, uneven and chunky. You can tell a real cartoonist from a wimpy one by how much he loves to draw teeth in all their ugly uneven and funny glory. Like Johnny Hart and Jack Kirby. You know what I hate? When people just draw all the teeth in a blank white bar. What a waste of 32 of the most naturally funny parts of our anatomy! How dare modern animators smooth out God's beautiful imperfections!
The actual main gag in the cartoon itself is totally abstract and I love it. It's a real clever exploitation of cartoon absurdity.
It's nuts on a bunch of levels and you have to accept each nutty concept in turn in order to get to the next gag:
1) A flower can be sneezed so hard that it can spear itself through a tree - intact.
2) That action has a specific sound it makes - 'KAZANGO"
3) Wiley sensed that the word "Kazango" was written in the panel where the flower crashed through the tree. Wouldn't it be cool if every time you heard a sound, the sound effect would appear in the air around you? We just accept that in the comics without question and so Hart points it out to us. For some reason, you don't see this as much in animation, but when you do, it's great.
4) Kazango is an acceptable explanation for how it happened.

These kinds of absurdities would be hard to get past executives, because "it doesn't make sense".
As simple as these designs look, Hart manages to get good descriptive poses out of them, sometimes broad, othertimes - like in the above panel - subtle.
I also love Hart's lettering style.

BTW, isn't newsprint texture great for comics? They oughta bring it back for comic books.


Kali Fontecchio said...

I saw this the other day in your designated reading area haha.

David Gale said...

I love all the other sounds too- Snook! Gnish! Gnuff!

Isaac said...

I do feel the flower is lodged in the dino's nostril, and I do feel the characters are expressing themselves and not "delivering lines". That's exactly how I know if a cartoon is good or not.

Niki said...

I actually have newsprint paper right now. Do you know if they sell any of Hart's comics anywhere? I wouldn't expect to find it at a Border's near me.

Rick Roberts said...

"I also love Hart's lettering style."

That was back when it was an idividual mark just like the art itself. Today it's all generic.

Off topic but did you hear about Kirk Douglas's new one man show ? Considering he had a stroke and his age, he looks very good for his age.

Anonymous said...

Love how his hands look like a bunch of sausages tied at the ends.

Brubaker said...

The sound effects were the best part in those BC strips. Great Zot!

Kinda makes one want to think up their own crazy sound effects.

Bonus points if you can somehow make one up for animation and succeed.

Alex I.R., Esq. said...

Where do ya get "Kazango"?
Like the drawings, though. Be fun to consruct those cavemen.

Adam T said...

I totally agree that comics look best on newsprint. Same thing for sci-fi novels. Not to sound too fruity but I like how newsprint ages. Makes the the stuff on the page feel more alive. When comics are printed up too slick they feel more abstract.

Jesse C said...

You've really made me appreciate Johny Hart and BC. I'm gonna have to dig up some of the old collections.

Thomas said...

The slick production of graphic novels seem to be geared towards a collector's mentality, and it takes a lot of the fun out of it.
Newsprint disintegrates, after which, all you have left is the FUN.

ComiCrazys said...

Not to mention the smell!!! Mmmmmmm

Tony said...

There's a great example of a sound word showing up on screen in Baby Bottleneck when the dog with a rocket attached to his back blows up him self and 'BOOM' pops up (my favorite scene from the short).

Niki said...

Coincidentally to what Brubaker said, This morning I was trying to figure out what KAZANGO! would sound like in a cartoon. I figured it would suck if it sounded realistic, and there would be no joke if a guy just says it. Maybe if you work it around into letters, like the strip, with the realistic sound(Or not), and have it go as normal.

HemlockMan said...

That one was always a favorite of mine when I was a kid. I thought Wiley's explanation was hilarious when I was eight years old. Still do, of course.

Lohenhart said...

KAZANGO! I love that word. Its the revolution!! I think this gag should be amazing to animate.

Alex I.R., Esq. said...

I've just started to draw these cave men of Hart's (with construction even.)
And y'know what I found? They are like some esoteric take on Charles Shultz's Peaunuts or something.
Similar theories of linework but a unique quality in Hart's characters, nonetheless.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Checker is bringing out a second book of BC strips from all periods of the series, called Growngold 2.

I have a whole stack of (color) Sundays I still have to scan. Not that these Sundays ever had a lot of color. Usually just a few bits of watery color against a lot of newspaper white. Another thing that makes it such a unique strip.